PM praises Duke of Edinburgh’s ‘distinguished Navy career’ at passing out parade

Emma Bowden, PA
·2 min read

Boris Johnson paid tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh’s “amazingly distinguished” career in the navy during a visit to the college where he was a cadet.

The Prime Minister said his thoughts were once more with the Queen whilst at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, which is where the young royal couple met for the first time in 1939.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited the naval college with their two daughters, when Philip, then 18, and the 13-year-old Elizabeth had their first publicised meeting.

In commemoration of the duke, Mr Johnson attended a passing out parade at the Devon college on Thursday, where he congratulated naval cadets as they became officers and spoke with them about their career ambitions.

The Prime Minister told broadcasters: “I’m here at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, which is the college from which the Duke of Edinburgh himself passed out, became an officer in 1940, before going on to have that amazingly distinguished naval career, the Battle of Cape Matapan, Sicily and then seeing the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.

Duke of Edinburgh death
The Prime Minister said his thoughts were with the Queen during the visit (Finnbarr Webster/PA)

“We’ve just seen those wonderful cadets become officers themselves and incarnating the finest traditions of the Royal Navy in the way that the duke did himself.

“And actually, funnily enough, here in this very garden, I think in 1939, the Duke of Edinburgh met the then Princess Elizabeth for the very first time.

“So, our thoughts are with her again today.”

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In May 1939, Philip, then aged 17, entered the college as a special entry naval cadet for training, following the footsteps of his paternal grandfather and uncles.

He was named best cadet on his course before beginning a career in the Royal Navy that saw him serve during the Second World War and reach the rank of commander.

During the Second World War, he served on several ships, firstly on HMS Ramillies, and saw active service against German, Italian and Japanese forces.

The Armed Forces are stepping up preparations for the duke’s funeral on Saturday which will feature servicemen and women from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and RAF alongside top military brass.